Which City?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Open Channel Newsletter

If you missed The Open Channel's new format Newsletter last weekend, I've reproduced it here. We would really like to have your feedback on the issues that are challenging you at the moment; if you think we can help, do get in touch.


We are delighted to welcome you to the latest edition of The Open Channel Newsletter. 

The Open Channel was created from the germ of an idea in February 2011. Since then we have launched our website, set up our regular blogs and social media links and delivered services to clients. 

This newsletter brings you quality content on a regular basis. Do contact us to find out how we can assist you to manage your change challenges. 

Find Out More 

If you are a public body, private service provider, voluntary and community delivery organisation or social enterprise, you will find the services we offer just right for your needs. 

Led by Janet Dean and Steve Loraine, two highly respected and experienced independent public service advisers, The Open Channel has a fresh and highly cost-effective approach to helping you lead and manage change. 

Our approach is based on the view that people and organisations are inherently strong and capable and that supporting strengths in times of change is a positive and more sustainable way to lead and manage.


We report on our Leadership Development Programme for Harborough District Council, where we used a mixture of coaching and facilitation techniques to develop the leadership capacity of the Council. 

Find out how we use Action Learning and Appreciative Inquiry with great success and how these approaches can benefit your organisation.

We also update you on our involvement in various new projects. 

Contact Us to Find Out More 


Initially invited to bid for a short intensive programme of support for the Senior Management Team, Janet Dean introduced The Open Channel to Harborough District Council in July 2011. Our involvement has lasted for a year during which the organisation has faced one of the most transformational periods in its history.

Our work has fallen into three phases:

An initial programme of support for a Senior Management Team facing change; we provided three themed workshops, three Action Learning Sets and telephone and Skype coaching for the Chief Executive and six senior colleagues.

In phase two we were commissioned to provide a programme for 30 senior employees including the Senior Management Team. 

Based on Harborough’s Leadership Competencies we delivered four one-day interactive workshops on Managing Change, Leadership, Working with Others and Communication and Strategic Focus.
Between the workshops we facilitated four Action Learning Sets linked to each of the themes, enabling participants to bring practical issues from the workshop to a shared problem solving arena.

Phase three, which uses Appreciative Inquiry to explore leadership themes is focused on the Council’s new Leadership team, which includes senior leadership posts shared with neighbouring local authorities.

This is what participants told us:

‘I felt it gave a common language and a platform from which to challenge (appropriately) others when behaviours could have been better’

‘The Action Learning Sets were the most positive outcome for me and I intend to continue to commit to them.’
‘It introduced me to new concepts with regards to leadership – and I found the appreciative inquiry element particularly interesting.’
‘I feel more confident in my leadership style and the impact I have on those around me.’
‘I found working with others especially useful and I feel now that I have a much better working relationship with colleagues and will be in better position to share issues and problems.’  



Training your people to support one another through Action Learning

Action Learning is a method for developing real-world solutions and the reflective practice skills of employees at all levels through the shared exploration of workplace challenges. It is particularly suitable for people who need support for the difficult leadership and managerial challenges they experience.

At a time when public services are changing rapidly and resources becoming ever scarcer, Action Learning is a cost-effective method for building the capacity and confidence of your key people.

We offer Action Learning on site or through webinar-style meetings. Sets work best with between four and eight people in the group. We not only facilitate the Action Learning; we also transfer skills to the participants enabling them to self-facilitate their sets in the future. In Harborough DC for example, we provided over 20 Action Learning sets through the year. 

Finding your Strength through Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a view of the world which enables organisations and communities to cooperatively explore what is working well, understand their strengths and address challenges based on the best of what is. It provides a balanced approach to change that does not over-concentrate on weakness or failure, as so many other frameworks and models can. 

Our clients tell us this approach really releases energy and enthusiasm through the appreciative conversations stakeholders have, capturing what works well, imagining their future, followed by creating shared goals. The actions focus on harnessing a community or organisation’s productive energy and aiming it at measureable and positive outcomes. Concrete actions, real results and sustainable change are several of the benefits of this approach.

We provided an introduction to AI for Harborough and then used it as an approach in the Workshops, Action Learning Sets and Executive Coaching. 

Elsewhere, Steve has introduced AI to and worked with clients to realise the benefits of AI in Fire and Rescue Services, city Councils, strategic partnerships, voluntary and community bodies and individuals. We will share the stories from these in future issues. 




The Open Channel co-founder Janet Dean has been appointed Chair of Compass UK with effect from the 1st September 2012. Compass UK is a charitable social enterprise which delivers almost £10m of services to families, young people and adults who want to become free of drug and alcohol dependency. Janet’s experience as a commissioner of health and social care, her wide public sector knowledge and extensive networks and her commitment to supporting people to live fulfilling lives will all help Janet in her new role.


You can keep up to the minute with The Open Channel through our blogs and Twitter feeds. We engage with our clients and stakeholders at @janetdean and @steveloraine and via Linked-in.
Check out the links in this newsletter, visit our blogs or add us to your favourites lists via

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